How the baby boomers learned about the world in their most formative years
Invasion of the Mind Snatchers
Television's Conquest of America in the Fifties
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When the first television was demonstrated in 1927, a headline in The New York Times read, "Like a Photo Come to Life." It was a momentous occasion. But the power of television wasn't fully harnessed until the 1950s, when the medium was, as Eric Burns writes, "At its most preoccupying, its most life-altering."
In Invasion of the Mind Snatchers, Emmy-award winning broadcaster Eric Burns chronicles the influence of television on the baby boomer generation. Spellbound by Howdy Doody and The Ed Sullivan Show, those children often acted out their favorite programs, purchased the merchandise promoted by performers, and were fascinated by the personalities they saw on screen, often emulating their behavior. It was the first generation raised by TV, and Burns looks at both the promise of broadcasting as espoused by the inventors and how that promise was both redefined and lost by the corporations who helped spread this revolutionary technology.
"Invasion of the Mind Snatchers offers the most comprehensive overview of television programming during the Fifties. Burns covers the most important programs and figures, ranging from Milton Berle and Bishop Fulton J. Sheen to Senator Joseph McCarthy and Edward R. Murrow. His lively writing style and choice of programs and genres provides an impressive synthesis of early television programming. There are many bold, intelligent and thought-provoking observations, opinions, and connections throughout this superb book."
"Eric Burns, a bona fide TV historian, has pulled off a difficult task—he has brought our early, grainy television history to life in living color. His book is a tour of our times, from cowboys and Indians, and scoundrels and healers, to televised hearings and game show hosts. Invasion of the Mind Snatchers is a television-lover's portrait of how we got here, for better or worse, and Burns reminds us that what we were watching all those years was our own history unfolding."
"[A]n entertaining as well as informative book.... Burns provides sharp analysis, explaining just how the industry exercised unprecedented power over the average American’s thoughts about news events such as the McCarthy hearings, social changes such as civil rights protests, and the roles of women and African Americans. This well-researched book contains a nice combination of serious topics and humorous anecdotes, plus an insightful bibliography. VERDICT: Reading a work by Burns is like having a delightful, intelligent conversation with a cultural expert. Highly recommended for TV history enthusiasts as well as general readers."
"Burns' lively retrospective glides smoothly through [its] stories."
"[T]his is an entertaining, easy read for those who want to learn more about the story of television in the US. Summing Up: Recommended."
"Invasion of the Mind Snatchers is a wholly entertaining, intelligent and thought-provoking work, one which will appeal to both media historians intent on tracing and understanding the impact of television as well as those more interested in reliving the bygone faces and shows of an earlier era."
"Burns elucidates the many ways television revolutionized the practice of everyday life....[It] is a certainly a fun and entertaining read."
A Note to Readers
Part I: The Medium
Part II: The Messages
Epilogue: The Man with a Secret